Cardinals win by a point |

Cardinals win by a point

Melinda MawdsleySteamboat Pilot & Today Staff

OAK CREEK – Friday’s Class 2A District 5 boys basketball semifinal game – the fourth between Hayden and Grand Valley this season – was everything a postseason contest should be, as the Cardinals escaped with a 40-39 win.With the win, Grand Valley advances to the district championship at 2:30 p.m. today against No. 1 Paonia at Soroco High School. The No. 3 Tigers had three chances to take the lead in the closing minute but came up empty. With 1.3 seconds left, senior Tyson Sweetser tried to find junior Bryan Richards near the top of the key, but No. 2 Grand Valley junior Mitch Belden deflected the inbounds pass away.Richards ran down the loose ball and threw up a wild, off-balance shot that went in, but the referees immediately waved it off.The Cardinals led for most of Friday’s game but never had more than a nine-point lead. Trailing 32-24 at the end of the third quarter, Hayden rallied in the fourth.Richards got an easy two points and senior Tyson Letlow pushed the Tigers ahead, 39-38, with an offensive rebound with 1:20 left in the game.”We got a lot of offensive rebounds that kept us in the game,” Tigers coach Shawn Baumgartner said.Grand Valley came down the floor looking to put the game away when senior Dylan Culver let go of a long three-point attempt with 1:05 on the clock. The rebound sailed off the rim, allowing the 6-foot-5 Luke Braby to tip the ball back to Culver.Culver took advantage of the second chance and drove straight to the hoop for the game-winning basket.Hayden keyed in on junior Sam Mckinley and Culver, which opened up things for Braby. Braby led the Cardinals with 12 points. Mckinley and Culver each had 11.”He’s a good player,” Kiburis said. “With our perimeter players, sometimes he doesn’t get as many opportunities.”

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